Last week, Reader UI of the Week profiled Lellee's UI and a call for help in fixing up a non-widescreen UI and just making the whole thing work a little bit better. One thing that I try to do during a call-for-help-type article is point people in the direction of an example of what I am trying to articulate. In this case, I wanted to profile a user interface that is simple enough to replicate on your own with a minimal amount of configuration addons, with an acceptable amount of time needed to create it. That's what today is about -- the philosophical process and a general outline to making your user interface look nice and tidy, just like our friend Pathanos has here.
Pathanos' UI is built around a Razer Naga-plus-keyboard setup for his tanking paladin. In the screenshot, you will see his sparse raiding UI, a clutterless view space that allows for plenty of information gathering while not being an addon monstrosity. Hopefully we can get you up to speed as well as to what is needed to set up something like this, with a quick understanding of the concepts needed, where to start, and what you want to look for when building it.
Pathanos' UI -- tank, paladin, neat and tidy, not too crazy
First, as usual, an email:
As of late, I've been using the default Blizzard UI because I could never get my UI just how I liked it. Before that I was using an nifty addon called Blizzart UI but with 4.2 it lost support from the author. In my quest to create a fully functional UI I decided to purchase a Naga. Buying the Naga was the best game play affecting decision that I've made so far. Ever since I bought my Naga I've been slowly building a UI around it. There are a few addons that you can't see, so I'll be sure to list them as well.
Noted Installed Addons:
Deadly Boss Mods
Preform AV Enabler
RazerNaga (essentially, just Dominos)
Shadowed Unit Frames
TidyPlates (and all the themes, except for ClassicPlates)
The picture is me tanking a BH25, I need to reposition the DBM alerts, but just haven't gotten around to it. I imagine I look like a total noob without my aura on in this picture lol. Once they fix the issue in 4.2 regarding modifiers (such as
/ ) I'll hopefully be able to keybind my cooldowns >.<
Hoping you like my UI, best regards,
Thank you for the email and submission, Pathanos. The first things that jump out at me when I look at Pathanos' UI are its simplicity and its light approach to addons and tanking. While the addon list above might appear intimidating, it's not. In fact, it's one of the lighter lists of "front and center" addons that I usually receive in Reader UI of the Week submissions. Remember, you really only need one addon per job that needs to be dealt with in game, so remember to keep your addon list as low as possible to prevent gimping your own experience. It's all about what you need balancing with what you want.
The steps to set up
So, you want to create a UI like Pathanos', something nice and simple that will last you across alts and characters. It's not a hard thing to do, I promise. You might have to spend a little time tinkering, is all. Step 1 is to assemble the addons that you will be using. Make a little list for yourself of the categories of addons that exist and the addon that you will be using to fill that category's need. In part 2 of my Addons 101 series, I discuss the basic interface elements and what you would want to potentially do with them, customization-wise, and you can use that as a template or list for what you want to change or tinker with.
After you've figured out what you want, it's time to get down and dirty in the UI. Before you log into your game, remember to go into the Addons configuration screen, accessible by the bottom left button on the character select screen, and enable the addons you want to start working on. I usually recommend doing one addon on a time so that you don't overextend yourself, but it's up to you. After you log in, it's time to get to work.
Action bars are the first thing I would set up, because most people use the action bars as a guide for the middle of the user interface and build the rest of the addons around the action bars. Whether you're using Dominos or Bartender, the process is similar. Each bar has a maximum of 12 buttons for you to arrange in most configurations. Pathanos' Razer Naga setup has dominated the look and feel of the action bars, with action bar blocks that resemble the Naga's button structure. You'll set the number of buttons and configuration of each bar, set the size and scale of the bars, and then position and lock them down.
Notice how Pathanos builds his user interface around the action bar setup while keeping enough space around and between the bar blocks for that see-through look. Now, you've got a focal point to build from. Chat boxes usually go on the left-hand side, just because. Use your action bars and chat box as guidelines for how "tall" your UI is going to be. The higher up the addons go, the less room you're going to have for plain old viewing space.
Conceptually, you'll want to keep to your original plan. You have a plan, right? Don't forget to refer back to that awesome little drawing you made of your hopeful UI first. Grid and Recount are placed alongside each other on the bottom right-hand side of the UI, easily accessible from a tank's point of view and just relevant enough to make the occupied space worth it.
Use it as a template
One addon at a time, one segment at a time. That's your key to victory when dealing with your own simple user interface. Pathanos' UI is one of the simplest, easiest-to-recreate setups I have seen in a long time that allows prospective UI builders to take a look, note what they want, and build from there. So from here on out, for a simple, go-to UI for readers and players who want something incredibly simple and well-built, I will point them this way. Pathanos, you did good. I like the Naga setup and, while it isn't for everyone, the action bars are set up well and the UI doesn't have too much excess. Good times.
Interested in getting the most out of your user interface? Come back once a week for more examples of reader UIs. For more details on individual addons, check out Addon Spotlight, or visit Addons 101 for help getting started.